The Mad and Crip Theology Podcast

#7 Laura MacGregor, Robbie Walker, Amy Panton, Miriam Spies

October 12, 2021 Amy Panton and Miriam Spies Episode 7
The Mad and Crip Theology Podcast
#7 Laura MacGregor, Robbie Walker, Amy Panton, Miriam Spies
Show Notes Transcript

On this episode Amy Panton and Miriam Spies are joined by Robbie Walker and Laura MacGregor to tell some of our stories - and how we identify as "reluctant theologians."  Part of our need / our hope for this work is to be supported by and in community. Together we explore our anger, grief, and hopes for ourselves, our communities, and our churches.  We would love to hear what this conversation sparks in you, what resonates with your experience, and what questions are lingering for you.

To watch the episode on YouTube, with subtitles on the screen, go here: 

Welcome to the Mad and Crip Theology Podcast,
hosted by Miriam Spies and Amy Panton, which

comes out of the Canadian Journal of Theology,
Mental Health and Disability. We both live

and work lands that have been homes and remain
homes to the Mississaugas of the Credit, the

Haudenosaunee, the Huron Wendat, the Neutral;
and the Ojibway/Chippewa peoples and other

peoples who have cared for the land.. We are
grateful for the opportunity to live and work

on this land and are mindful of the need to
repair broken covenants. This podcast is an

opportunity to model how faith communities
can engage in theological and spiritual conversations

around madness and cripness. If you need a
full transcript you can find videos on our

Youtube channel. We want to say before we
begin that topics and conversations we are

raising throughout our time together are often
hard! They are hard for mad and crip people

ourselves and hard for our families and loved
ones. So, do what you need to do to take care

of yourselves, your bodies, minds, and hearts.
And now, here is our episode.

Today there's four of us here
on the Mad and Crip Theology podcast

Miriam Spies, myself Amy Panton, Robbie
Walker and Laura MacGregor so we're so

glad to be here with you and
we decided that we wanted to have

some round table talks that we would be
doing every once in a while

um just to bring a bit more
a bit more of a conversation and also

we wanted to be able to share some more
of ourselves with you our listeners

we've had some feedback that
uh our listeners want to hear more from

and so here we are.

So we decided today that we would
talk a little bit about our own stories,

um and also we have a few questions that
we want to try to unpack together.

So I think Miriam is there anything else
you want to say as we are getting


No, good to have you here.

Look forward to hearing your stories
after you

listen to this, watch this.

So today as we were,
just to get us started, we were talking a

couple weeks ago or maybe it was last

about this idea of why are we doing the
work that we're doing and

um put forth this idea that, is it

possible we could all be
reluctant theologians in some way?

And so, Laura I wonder if I can invite
you to

say a little bit more about

why you think really reluctant
theologian is a good

title that you gave yourself, so would
you like to get us started?

Uh sure um yeah thanks for including me
in this conversation today. I'm excited

explore these ideas with all of you

amazing people.
Yeah reluctant theologian.

I I think the term absolutely describes
my experience and my story.

I often say if you had asked me whether

I would do work in theology
or I would be teaching at a theological

a few years ago or a decade or two ago, I

would have laughed,
very hard actually.

I started out in the health sciences. I
was an occupational therapist. I

was a PhD student in the health sciences.
I did not see myself

in this world at all despite the fact
that I look at it now and feel very

happy in this world.

But I I think,
my story is I

I had an existential crisis of faith and
I got really really angry at God

and the only way I knew how to make
sense of it was to try to make sense of

it and that involved
registering for

master's level courses in theology.
Originally I was just going to take some

interest courses the idea that it became
an MA and then a PhD

sort of unfolded so
there, I feel like there was no intention

in this journey to become a theologian.
It just happened it unfolded and

and even today I sort of shake my head
and I'm hesitant to call myself a

theologian so
reluctant, uncom uncomfortable, I think

all of those words would would describe
my story.

I'd be curious to hear your stories.

Robbie, do you want to jump in and and
tell us a little bit about your story?


So I was sitting in a systematics one

which was based on the Apostles' Creed,
and I was 18 years old

the very first thing

that the professor said to us after we
sat down, on the very first day monday

morning at 8:30, God help us,

he says
"Ladies and gentlemen,

all of you are theologians, the question
is whether you are a good one."

And he had me he had me right there. I
was, I'm interested,

and by the end of that semester

it was very clear that I wanted to be an

academic theologian

as part of my
call to ordained ministry.

Um so that was a trajectory that i was
not at all reluctant about. But my story


after leaving that particular
institution, I came out as queer, like I

came out as a gay man,
and having grown up pentecostal,

this immediately puts me, and living with
Cerebral Palsy immediately puts me in,

I feel like a particle of radium in

uh every
room that I walk into for whatever

reason um and so
I guess that

reluctant theologian
in terms of some of the spaces that I

feel called to be in
like arguing with

academic theologians about

queerness or arguing with pentecostal
pastors about queerness, um.

Do I want to be in that space? Yes I
absolutely want to be in that space,

because people are being harmed.
Is it easy?

Not a chance in hell, you know? Um and so
in that sense, it's like this is my

vocation and I have the energy to do it.
But it's so hard and there are days I

just I'd rather stop fighting,
you know,

um because sometimes I do view it as a

So I think reluctant theologian can
apply even though being a theologian

was something that
is something that i embrace quite


And for me, I'm not sure I would call myself a theologian.
I know I do in my bio, I name myself as
a crip

I'm hoping to fake it until

it happens,

but I

went into journalism

and then

I traveled
to Palestine/Israel where I

had the beginnings of a call.
That's a long story.

So I ended up at Emmanuel College for my
Master's and during my MDiv I was


my Cerebral Palsy

matter for ministry,
and that I would

be ordained
no problem because I'm

so stubborn

problem solve


and then
when ordination,

I was ordained, but ordination


for me,
um as

were not opportunities

for me to serve.


fell into a deep depression,

and was suicidal.

And after some

thank God, I became

more aware of
my CP so after like

25 years of
living with CP I started

that it

mattered for my life and
how I was in the world.

then I started

investigating disability
theology and

found that
most of it

was written by

people and by

in particular,

um and

well and good for lots of

and but I found I found

were missing and
their voice

wasn't helping me

practice ministry.
So then I

I turned 
to PhD work


hopefully help the church think about, if
we want to support

leaders of

disabilities, and other marginalized leaders,

what do we need to do as a church
to ensure


ensure human rights are honoured,

so I'm still figuring

what that might look like

I was

to do it
because it's

not actually my work
to do alone.

It's the church's

however I'm
hoping to give

the church some

so that I can

other people can

offer ministry.

Thanks Miriam, and Robbie's Rob, if you're
listening to this, Robbie's clapping.

so thanks so much for sharing Miriam.

I was thinking about this question a lot
this week, um reflecting on it and

I think
for me um,

I grew up with really shitty theology,
I grew up with um,

I know I've heard Robbie say this before
the term "testosterone theology" and I

think it really, yes, resonates with
what I grew up with which was God--

I was, you know it's weird sometimes, I
have this like weird thing where I can

remember songs from when I was little
and I was thinking about the song the

other day I I used to sing in Sunday
school and it go, the words are:

"My God is so big so strong and so mighty,
there's nothing my god cannot do." And it

goes on and on.
But um,

I grew up with the God who um
was very powerful and very um

I think
in some ways distant but also um

also very present in some ways for me.

and I I grew up in the pentecostal
church so Robbie and I have some

resonances there.
And I left the church for a long time,

in my, when i was around 18/19, I was like

I can't, I don't, I don't fit here.
I can't find, I can't squeeze myself into

this box,
um that I feel like the church wants me

to be in,
and um I kind of did that whole thing of

like you know trying to figure out is
your parents' religion for you?

And um I've come back in some ways to
"organized religion" through

the academy.
My my mentors here at uh Toronto School

of Theology, I feel, have really stood in
the gap for me in a lot of ways and

helped me to
see God in a new way um and also feel

like I'm wanted
as a part of the larger conversation of,

like what the heck we're doing, I don't
know with the journal or just like that

God didn't see me as like a broken piece
of garbage

God some sees me as like a
semi-functioning human.

and I guess

for me my own story is you know mental

illness runs in my family
and um

my own
story is I've had a journey with a lot

of anxiety. I've also have a um
a diagnosis of OCD and so I I think part

of what I
really want to do,

with some of my work is um--
one of the questions that I have is

you know, "Is there room for somebody like
me in

the larger conversation that theology is
having right now?"

Um and "Is there room for others like me

don't have it all together,
who've struggled um,

and who are looking for a home?"
Um I think my

journey away from the church and then

kind of back to it has made me feel like
a refugee,

and I've heard a lot of other people who
grew up in sort of like the

more traditional evangelical or even
what's the word, conser very

churches, especially women

feel this way.
And I'm very very blessed to have an

awesome therapist who, she works with
women who have come out, or like I I

would like, I use the word "survived" very
conservative christian um

upbringings so I'm really

blessed to have her in my life and to be
able, she's somebody who walks with me at

this time and I'm I'm just today I just
want to say I do not have it all

together so um
I'm I'm just a person who's wandering,

trying to figure out
my way as well.

And I think that um the journal has
become a way that, I know Miriam and I

have talked about this before, it's a way
that we've,

and doing this podcast too, it's been a
way for us to sort of figure out what

our voice is and be able to like
contribute in in new ways to the

current theological conversation that's
going on um,

yeah, and you know, trying to bust out a
little bit of academic silos that we can

shoved in,

you know, when we start moving through
academia so.

So yeah and I think um, just to circle
back to the reluctant theologian,

question. I think I'm I this is a good uh

sort of name for me as well and my
reluctance comes from my own struggle

with so social anxiety
and so for me

um I have to, I am reluctant to speak and
it's been hard for me to find my voice

over the years but I feel like I'm
getting there.

Um I'm I'm getting there and maybe i do
have something to say,

So yeah that's how I feel about that

question so.

I just feel so many
so many resonances between the stories

in in my own experience like

Miriam talking about
I I heard you say

that part of your ministry is you would
love to give the church tools

so that
so that ministry becomes

a thing that everybody does everybody
has in ministry and

and having tools to hand people. You can
use this, you don't have to, you don't

have to treat,

all tools are not hammers and everything
is not a nail, um and so here's a here's

a toolbox and I really um I really
resonate with that


not having it together

I call um
Amy I heard you use the term refugee

I talk about feeling like I'm in exile

because if I if I go to and I I still do
sometimes, like if i'm on holiday or

whatever I go back to my people that I
grew up with,

and there's still so much resonance

that I am not
welcome there as I am, I am not home,

you know, and I wish I could go home

you know after unpacking all the shitty
theology and trauma and blah blah blah

blah, there's still a piece of me that
says I want to go home.

And and in in Laura's story the the
sense of

I'm I'm here,

um I didn't expect to be here
and and sort of um it unfolds but it

certainly unfolded in a much different
direction than I was expecting because

goodness if if I had

according to the path that I thought I

was gonna
um I probably would still be

an out
gay man, just as gimpy as ever

you know, but but I would have probably
uh had to leave

conservative church jobs after getting
married and having kids

and then realizing that oops the the
reparative therapy didn't work and

what is this that I that I'm in a
tradition that really values bodily

healing and I still live with CP
and you know these sorts of things or

I'm I'm anxious but people are uh,
clinically anxious even, but people are

gaslighting me about isn't that what
"normal people" experience --

normal people whatever that is you know.
So I just resonate so much with what

saying in different ways so thanks it's

so it's so good to hear testimonies, as
my as my pentecostal friends say

hallelujah! Hallelujah! Yeah I was like
Amy you're still using language

sometimes out of the pentecostal
tradition. It's in your bodies. It is. It is.

Have you been able to find

that feel like home Robbie?

um I think

I think home I've realized is
where people I love

not necessarily location.

Yeah. Even in a metaphorical sense. Um you
know my therapist several weeks ago,

she has a talent for asking what i call
nosy questions,

very gentle. Most therapists do.

Yes but there's this running joke about

oh there's another nosy question, um and
and she said

"What is your relationship to place?"

And I said "complicated." But the the
the question has stayed with me for

several months because I think it's a
really important one.

I I still feel

I'm mostly home
in in a few places and there

there was one community that I was part
of that the actual institutional

apparatus imploded
and so I was and so I'm still sort of

grieving the collapse of an organization
called Generous Space

because they were the people I was like,

if this was a church planting
organization I would be on the, I would

be the first person on the list for
ordination because I can bring 99.8%

of myself
to this space and nobody bats an eye.

you know so I have found home

and sometimes lost it again, so it's
yeah so.

The academics are all thinking

We can edit the dead air. No, I'm not editing any of this.

I think my reluctance also, like I'm
listening to these stories and uh

yeah there's a lot of overlap, a lot of
your experiences, I feel connect with

Um so I don't have a disability

um but I was the mother of a child with
profound physical and intellectual

disabilities who also was considered
medically fragile for 21 years until he

passed away so I,
my encounters with the church

were largely through the lens of
caregiving and being the mother of a

child with disability and
my, it's interesting sort of I think part

of my reluctance is
it stems back to an anger that at times

borders on barely contained

so when I say I got angry with God, I

like I
I, you know put that on testosterone, like

it was a pretty deep-seated anger,
um and and I would include the church in

that, in fact maybe my anger was even

directed at the church because
um my

what I heard was what I sort of linked
to a lot of the sort of Vanier-type

theology, so 
shitty theology, um you know, "Your

journey with your child with
intellectual disabilities will be

life-changing, it will allow you to
become more deeply connected to your own

humanity or your own spirituality." And
there was so much that was deeply toxic

about that, not the least of which is
that he personalized my son

and made him some theological muse for

Instrumental to your own progress as a
person. Exactly and yeah discounted this

this the embodied suffering that he
lived with for many of those years and

so I had this
burning white hot rage at times

directed at God and the church and the
voices that that then spoke to me but

then didn't allow me to speak back. So
when I tried to correct them and say, "Oh

I don't actually agree with your
theology," or "I

I have problems with what you're

I found that I was often on the
receiving end of these very

condescending and patronizing messages
that say, "Oh you don't just you don't

understand yet, don't worry, keep doing
what you're doing and it will all make

sense and you will come to realize our
our theology is correct."

And I felt deeply silenced and so I
think part of becoming a theologian

though I I still don't always
I struggle with that term being applied

to me

was because it was the only way I could
give voice to this anger and throw it

back at the church and say,
"I disagree with you so here's a way I'm

allowed to disagree with you." It was a
some sort of socially acceptable way

to be angry at God and the church and say
"Okay please listen to me."

It was a way of finding my own voice.
So much of what I encounter

in my own background,
Laura, is:

"You are not allowed to have the
authority to tell your own story."

"Um we are the ones who understand we are
the ones who will tell you exactly how

this is going to go

and god help you if you invoke the I,
you know the, as in I am like this or I

believe this because you could be you
know John Milton's Satan,

for for lack of a better way to put it,
that you know, the person who says I is

the one most capable of resisting the
will of God right?  And this is the sort

of ethos that I grew up
with and so

yeah having the opportunity to resist

and say no my voice and my experience
and my pain and my the way my body is

even if you don't have a disability
there are so many people in the church

I think the white hot anger is I am not

allowed to speak in my own voice and
this is fundamentally unfair and unjust.

I'm sitting here listening and there's

there's this productive uh

cool energy sort of rising up through my
stomach and my chest right, so my heart

feels hot
uh right now listening to folks.


came across


by bell hooks
this summer

and I

have it on my desktop so I see it
every day

and think it's

a lot of what we're talking about here.

She writes,
"No need to hear your voice when I can talk about you better than you can speak about yourself. No need to hear your voice. Only tell me about your pain. I want to know your story. And then I will tell
it back to you in a new way. Tell it back to you in such a way that it has become mine, my own. Re-writing you, I write myself anew. I am still author, authority. I am still the colonizer, the speaking subject, and you are now at the center of my talk.
(Hooks 1990, p. 343)

And I think this anger

we're naming, like I'm even

to be angry,
that's something I'm working on

with my therapist

Um, I know anger can be
powerful in seeking justice.



my story to be dismissed
as the angry

story as someone seeking

compensation or seeking

you know,  I want
I want, if i'm going to tell my story to

the church I want it not to be

in a
condescending way,

not that I have
control over that

I tell my story,

I I 

guess I'm a different
in a different position being able to

tell that story,


privileged in that way.

there's something about

being angry

loving the church

is the tension I
I live with.

That whole paradox.
This idea of anger I'm finding really

interesting to listen to,
you know, and also your comment about um

the the original sort of authors of
disability theology and I would argue

sort of disability and caregiving, um

were very much able-bodied men. Um
and I know that I

looked in vain at times for
the voices of mothers and couldn't find

and and then this whole idea of the

"angry mother" and
how you're so quickly dismissed. You're

"the hysterical angry mother"
and your voice is not taken seriously.

And I can tell stories of sitting in
seminars being told by men that I didn't

understand my own maternal anger or my
own maternal stories,

and that they could. The bell hooks quote,
I think I'm going to need to go find it

and put it on my computer screen
because, like I I it really spoke to me

--this idea that
that many times men in authority in the

church would tell me my story and inform
me of where God was in my story,

you know this this,

my work, my reluctant theological work,

is about trying to reclaim my story, take
ownership of my anger, and call the

church to account at some level.

Speaking as someone who is perceived
unambiguously as a cisgender


it's been part of my own journey to
realize how often

men who look like me,
white colonial settlers, especially if

we're British
you know, and we've been writing all the

and preaching most of the sermons, etc.

and realizing that
even though in weird ways because I'm

disability, you know, disabled and queer
I'm feminized and infantilized like

people treat me like a child or like a
woman--not that that's a

being treated like an infant is a
problem being treated like a woman is

uh just to

just to be clear in my own heart--
um but how many times

we've spoken from the top down rather
than invited people to share


I actually don't know anything about
your experience, teach me everything I

need to know like not in the sense of I
obligate you to educate me but I don't

what do I need to know?

From a place of joy.
From a place of

you have something to teach me, there is
so much good,

or or even rough and complicated but

there's so much that we can

that's just yours and I have nothing to
do with it um.

It it it's a difficult thing for

me to hear because I'm,
if you're listening rather than watching,

I've been shaking my head going, it
really surprises me that disability and

caregiving stuff is written by

Really like?
Uh so you know like really?

To be fair there are women now. Now for sure, but like let's do some basic sociology on that one you know.

What I mean like
it just makes me want to laugh in the

worst way, so thanks for
thanks for being patient with boys like

me that are
that are learning that

our voices are
sometimes taking up too much space and

we're not the only ones in the room.

I'm thankful for other

disciplines in that way
so like

disability studies has
a much

set of voices so do queer studies,

and on and on, so how can we use
other voices

to engage in theology?

I wonder if,

talked a lot about our work and our call to our work, I wonder if we want to move to "Why do we stay?" 

Why do we stay when

we feel like it's a fight or whatever we
stay when

using our energy on anger.

So I I
can start

I stay
out of 

my love for God
and for God's

people, out of
my hope

that God

transformative in the world and

work for

work for just

and when I lose sight of that,


then it
becomes about me rather than and

what God is doing.
And I stay because I love a lot of

people in

world that I've

I work with,

that I've

from and

they see
they see the possibilities

that I see
so that's

a bit of

why I stay.

I wish I had
such an altruistic

selfless answer because God has called
me and I I love God. I wish I could say

that because

I don't
always feel that way

I feel a lot, like my answer feels so
much more selfish but the truth is like

"Why do I do what I do?"
First of all, I do it because I'm angry,

because the church needs to grow up and
do better.

I do it
I do it because I owe it to my son and

my son's memory and
I owe it to people like my son who are

living these challenged lives because
the church is not a safe place for them.

I do it for the 30 year old version of
me who was lost and confused and walked

away from the church
because they completely and colossally

let my family down and let my son down
like I do this work

for uh for
for all of these reasons and sure, maybe

God's there somewhere.
Sorry I feel like you know I'm

blasphemous here but I do it I can't do

I also do it because I need something to do and
hopefully one day

will find a job

that supports
my life.

And I think I do it at some level and
I'm privileged that I can do this I I I

own that.
But I do it at some level because I

can't not do it
i just don't know how to not do it and

this seems to have become a very good
place for my energy

um and I just feel deeply grateful that
the opportunities have become available

to me
to to to sort of

give some direction to my anger and my
energy, and yes, what that has meant is

that I have at some level reconciled
with God and the church.

I was just thinking

I uh

I think it was Leonard Cohen right um??
"That's how the light gets in."

Yeah. Um

what sometimes what happens to me, I'm

listening to
because um,

theology for me is also a special
interest so there's definitely a piece

of i don't know how to do anything else
and and "Oh

Lord be kind because I because I need to
support my life

uh you know, so if if I can't get
ordained, can I please uh write books

that sell well enough that that I can
contribute to my household?" Um

so uh

over the years, like I've been taught
different models of theological

reflection and I remember sitting there
with a good friend of mine and we looked

at each other, and she's this cranky

uh Anglican woman who doesn't suffer

fools gladly and has a very warm heart
and we look to each other and go "This

confuses us." And she said

the reason why we're having so much
trouble with this procedure is because

we just run theological reflection all
the time like 24/7." So I say that to say

this--when I'm listening to the stories
unbidden what came to me,

uh Laura, when you were sharing about
maybe God's in there somewhere, what came

up for me is we believe in the communion
of saints.

and so

all of these people you know. I I wrote a
poem that I presented to Generous Space

and it was two pastors. It was "Dear

and and the
the last few lines were

"So if so if this is true,
that I hear the same Jesus that you do,

oh pastor why do you write and why do
you read books that kill queer teenagers?

And I think I too have the Spirit of God."
And I sat down.

one of the reasons I do the work is

because there are so many people

it's a life or death
thing, and the church has been shitty and

the church has failed, and the church
sometimes sits there. People whose faces

I can see not usually but sometimes
people whose faces I have in my head

have been smug assholes
about people that I love. This is not


and and yet to call myself a theologian
in the eastern tradition which i think

for me explains part of my reluctance,
the eastern church

uh has two

in the sense of people that when they
say saint so and so, the theologian

and what they mean is this person was
also clearly a mystic.

So if you are not clearly a mystic how
dare you call yourself a theologian? And

so it's like there's a certain extreme
humility and discomfort with uh

reluctance to call yourself a theologian
in the eastern tradition but I'm like I

think I am a mystic.
Uh you know I'll never be I'll never be

uh recognized but like I encounter
God but yeah, I just,

the communion of saints is really
important to me and

I engage
partly because

the church can do much better
but also

and I want a paying job when I grow up,
but also that and I've said before, I


I think
Jesus is beautiful

and I think what he teaches is beautiful
and liberating. And

so you know the evangelicals, they

introduced me to Jesus and then and then
I find out

that he's a radical badass.

And the pentecostals, they introduced me

to the Holy Ghost, hallelujah,
and she's a shit disturber she is not

well organized and she is not interested
in propping up human bullshit and so all

of a sudden I take these
I take the Godhead seriously and all of

a sudden I'm in exile from my own people
because what I'm hearing does not at all


they say I should.
um okay but I stay

you know what church, we can do better, we

can, we really can.
Because God is real.

Jesus actually smells really good when
you get him right.

Um people want, I'm I don't mean this in
a colonial way but

even if people don't want to become
institutional Christians, God help us,

most people I encounter
are attracted to the figure of Jesus

even if they don't want to become an
institutional disciple,

um because there's something badass and
that just smells good in the way that he

real people um and I want to be like

that when I grow up and therefore I
write theology.

Sermon done.
That was like, I was just gonna say

Robbie is theologizing. I love it. That's

Thanks Robbie

How do I follow that?

For me.
Like yourself.

yeah for me I think um

I think I stay
because of some of the things that

Robbie said um.
I stay because I feel like the church is

my home.

I I remember I was helping to teach a
class um,

oh isn't isn't doing a PhD just a blur,
it was uh the winter semester that just

and one of the students said,

um when we were having a discussion we
asked this this whole question of "Why do

you stay in religion?" came up
and one of the students said,

"I stay because that's all I know
and it's too hard,

it's everything that I do
from the way I dress, to the way I eat,

the way my family's organized is
organized around my religion, and if I

it's going to be too hard. I don't have

the energy to go and
i guess it would be like leaving a

partner and trying to date again and do
the whole thing over again it's just

it's too hard too much for me."
And I thought to myself

"You know
is that true for me as well?"  I don't know

I had to really sort of um sit with that
for a while and I think there is some of

that with me, there's the familiarity
um, there's the the way that I was raised,

there's the way that my family is and
those kind of things. My my partner is

from a different faith tradition
but I feel like um

I feel like I have deep roots in
christianity that I I don't want to rip

out. I'm not ready to rip those out. I I
want I want to stay.

there's something for me there that is,

there's a longing there to to keep
connecting with other people

who are Christians, whether they're

they're my type of folks um they're more
the badass Jesus kind of people or

they're the more traditional kind of
"This is the way it's always been let's

keep doing it that way."

I also wonder um if
I want to be a part of making

more space for people who are like me
who've struggled with mental health who

whose families have struggled with
mental health um I want to

I want to bring the conversation that
mad studies and mad activism is um

talking about and I want to bring that
into theology in some way and like um

get them to talk to one another because
not a lot of that has been going on

and I don't fault theology for that. I
just think Miriam and I always talk

about how theology's always behind
always behind, it's like we're always

catching up to what other people are

um I don't know why that is and if some
of our listeners

want to posit why, please tell us, if
somebody wants to write an article about

it please tell us
because I don't know I don't know why

we're always behind
um it's like we're always trying to

catch up it's like,
culture moves forward and then you know

a couple years later we decide to write
a paper on video games or whatever you

know like it's just
oh now now we're cool because we're

we're talking about tic toc like those
kids all the kids are doing you know I

don't know anyway um
yeah I just I wonder

I wonder why I've always wanted that
anyways that's another podcast.

I would love to write one of those

Okay, alright Robbie
yeah there you go.

and I think the other the other part of

why I stay too is because I've met a lot
of really beautiful people

since I sort of like um
I don't know if I want to use language

I've left the church but I
I took some I I took some time away from

to heal from some of the wounds that

I had from growing up from the church um
and I needed to figure out, you know, did

I do I want to stay?
And and my decision has been I do.

But the question now for me is um
what will that look like for me and I'm

still trying to figure that out. I I feel
like I'm still at the point in my life

where if I went into an organized
religion church type thing I'd probably

have a panic attack
so I need to be

gentle with myself on how

going with these kinds of things and

again, thank God for my therapist,
um and my life rhythm is like I'm like

a snail but like a senior snail like a
really old snail lady with everything

that I do I'm very slow
so I I'm sure I'll get there but it may

not be for a while.

yeah lastly I might say
I wonder sometimes about um the concept

of doing some reparative work

I see that there's some

I um I see that there's some repair that

needs to be done in my heart or spirit
um for

in ways that I've been hurt by the
church and by people who may have

some of my ways of being or some of my

things I was interested in pursuing or
some of my questions,

um and for those people who've grown up
in conservative

churches you know what I mean when I say
some of my questions, because it's you're

not really supposed to ask
you're not supposed to ask the tough

questions and it's it's um
it's shameful to doubt

very shameful
because it shows that you

you don't have enough faith um.

And I'm not I'm not saying that's
correct but that's

that's what I what I grew up with,
so um I'm interested in doing that doing

healing work and and some repair
uh and some of that shitty theology and

also on some of those wounds, so
yeah I don't think I could do that

without remaining connected with people,
like three of you

and other people who I've met
in the past maybe 10 years so I'm very

thankful for all of you here today.

Yeah I
I don't think

I could be here without
supportive people like you

other mentors in my life too


power in my story,

even when I do not
or anything, when I think it's


and I'm aware of our time now and I want

to move us
to our


for today. I'm gonna change the question

a wee bit
and say

what are your hopes
for these

and what are your hopes


or viewers

take away from
or to

to think about
after if

we're giving out homework

we won't be

grading or anything but
but what

yeah what do you hope

come from
these conversations?

I hope people
can take away, you are a lot, like

as though

the way I want to phrase it is: you are
allowed to say what you need to say

and grow toward that place, and
I know that in my life, you know goodness

gracious, like please
uh you know take permission even if a

white boy doesn't give it to you.

you know
but I think

yeah it's just you.
It was such a powerful thing for me to

sit with you today and and realize again
what I experience when there's a there's

a freedom that I've been growing into
because I, the way I put it to people: I

am allowed to say everything I think in
the house of God.

There's nothing, there is actually
nothing that is out of bounds.

People may, like if I say something
asshole-ish you know racist, homophobic,

transphobic, etc. etc. the community will
adjust me or they should immediately.

But where you are is where you are,

take courage to say the things you feel

you need to say. And they might be messy
and they might be problematic and they

might be shitty theology but we all have
to start somewhere,

so I hope people take courage.

I think what I would say is
is that the stories matter and that

your stories matter to the people who
are listening.

You know we have sat here today telling
our stories and finding power in those

stories and finding our calling in those
stories and

so just affirming how powerful those
stories are and the need to share them

openly and as Robbie said to uh to share
them authentically and to know that who

you are and your story is valued in the
house of God

but also in this community and that we
need to support each other as we tell

our stories. And I think

I think Amy you were saying you know
that the people who make it possible to

I know that

that has been a huge part of my story as
well, that I stay

because I have energy
that has found a home,

but also because people
have heard my anger and

encouraged me to talk about my story and
had made it possible to stay,

that they created space for me.

and so yeah tell your stories, make space
for one another.

Yeah that would be, I think what I'd want
to say.

And I think

i echo both
of you Laura and Robbie and I think I


to be a place

relationship, of

communities, so that
people see


beyond the stories that are

in the media
or the church about disabled folk

and say,
you know,

these stories are way more complex

we have


churches so

in that, take

time to listen to this

time to engage in relationship
because that that

ultimately what is


I think.

Amy, how about you?
Yeah I think for me um

I I know Miriam and I
have been talking a lot lately, about you

know, both of us are
PhD students, and well and Robbie is too,

um and and I think in this uh this
this time um

we are grappling with building a
"professional identity" for ourselves

whatever that is.
And I think for me uh I want my

professional identity to include

my, sort of you know like the superhero
origin story.

I'm outing myself as like a total nerd
by mentioning comic books and

superheroes and stuff but I I wanted to
I wanted to sort of like include my

origin story because without it
the work this work doesn't make any

Um and I you know whatever and wherever

I end up

after graduation,
knock on wood that will happen um,

I want to be in a place where I'm just
I can be real and not have to hide parts

of myself that are maybe messy or not
perfect or um

yeah I just want to be like a real human
transparent human so I hope that this

podcast would be a part of that
um and people will want to listen

um as we delve into
different topics going forward that

we want to talk about messy topics kind
of like hot topics, difficult topics, and

also happy stories um good stories too

that that connect to
uh madness and and crippness so

we, on that note, um I think we are gonna

for today
and I just want to say thank you so much

to everyone who is here today for for

so much of yourselves with our listeners
and and with each other.

And um I can't say exactly when we'll be
doing this again,

but it will be

So we look forward we look forward to

Thanks for including me. It's always fun
to hang out with you guys.

Thanks. Same